This research investigated the knowledge and attitude of nursing students regarding HIV transmission risks at their workplace. An online questionnaire was completed by 157 students, mostly between 19 and 23 years old, following a bachelor education in Leuven, a middle sized Belgian town.
Generally, the majority of the students overestimated the risks of hiv transmission. Situations like eating in a restaurant where the cook has hiv, sharing cutlery, plates or glasses with a person living with hiv or working alongside someone living with hiv, were all considered to hold a risk of transmission by respectively 62% en 50% of the respondents. Also, only 51% of all respondents knew that hiv is not transmitted through saliva.
Half of the student has, at some point during their last internship, worried about contracting hiv, and 84% of the students advocates regular testing of all nursing staff working at a hospital. 19% believes that hiv-positive nurses should stop nursing patients, and one in three students state they have a right to know the positive hiv serostatus of their colleagues, even if this goes against the wishes of this colleague. Also, 36% of the nursing students claims that nurses have the right to refuse caring for an hiv-positive patient.
The findings show that nursing students over estimate the risk of hiv transmission in their workplace. Also they hold discriminating attitudes which might hamper equal treatment of people living with hiv in regular care facilities. We therefor recommend the implementation of educational interventions in nursing students’ training curricula focussing on knowledge and attitudes on hiv and people living with hiv.
- Nursing students
- Risk perception HIV
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